Network? Why would I want to do work on the net? In my free time online, I would rather focus on watching Dexter, ESPN, or checking out profiles on Facebook. Wait a second… Facebook is a social network.
Why should we network?
Kudos to you for belonging to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, Google+, Blogger, WordPress etc. You have made the first step towards networking your name… your brand. After all, these networks allow you to follow those with similar interests and goals, such as my interest in watching Dexter or ESPN.
There are multiple reasons to network.
1. meet new people and reunite with old friends
2.find and join communities
3. pursue career opportunities
FIRST, social networks allow people to connect with those that they may never meet in person. Before beginning my education at Marist College, I had 200 Marist Facebook friends. Ten years ago, people simply showed up for school and made friends that way. Today, we network before walking in the door.
As a child, I played video games on the Internet with people I had never met. As the years progressed, I fell out of contact with them. Last month, I was surprised to receive a Facebook friend request from one of the old members of the gaming community. Later, I rejoined the gaming community.
The concept of a friend has changed. On Twitter, friendships can occur in 140 characters or less.
SECOND, participating in groups is a way to network with people that share a common interest, goal, or experience. In the gaming situation, I joined up with old friends. As a student at Marist, I learned of different activities on and off campus. When I graduated from Marist, I joined the Marist College Alumni Group. And, as an Eagle Scout, I recently linked up with people sharing this same award.
People have bizarre interests and, if you look hard enough, you can find that niche
And, THIRD, networking levels the playing field. As a person that didn’t have a network or job opportunity secured prior to graduation, networking has been key in introductions to people that are in my field or know someone who could help.
I commend one of my professors, @tcmassie, for introducing me to many Marist alumni that could aid in my career search. I now make a point of adding anyone that interests me on these social networks. I no longer uncomfortably hesitate to ask a question or search for input; I just do it. Through my experiences, I have learned that people love to help others. While I am still jobless, all of the interviews I have had were a result of networked relationships.
My advice? Go add 10 people that you are interested in connecting with. If you prefer using Twitter, find people there. Maybe you have always wanted to follow Bill Gates. If you find something more professional works for you, LinkedIn is the network to join.
In the world of networking, there needs to be a balance between quality and quantity. Successfully balancing and nurturing relationships will prove worthwhile in the long-term.
I, for one, accept any request for friendship. I am indebted to social networks for their ability to let me connect with others.
My final thought: change your concept of “networking” to “netplaying”. Have you “followed” someone new today?